CLAREMONT residents may have to pay to replace contentious Queensland box trees on local verges.
Box trees are sometimes contentious because they are heavily pruned in streets with powerlines and because they shed nuts and leaves.
The species comprises 22 per cent, or 1459 of the 6568 street trees in Claremont – where most verges have WA peppermints and the overall tree canopy cover is till at 20 per cent, despite 1000 new street trees being planted since 2011.
Cr Kate Main proposed residents could pay for replacement WA species from the council’s tree list because the town’s overall green coverage would increase and it would stop boxes being “butchered” for overhead power lines.
She said it could be easier to build new homes if verge box trees were removed and replaced with a native after the hose was finished, but “wholesale” removal of streets’ trees would be prevented by charging residents for the change.
However, a staff report said some box trees in the south of the town, including Princess and Agett roads, were up to 60-years-old with 14m-wide canopies – so it could be “decades” before any replacements reached similar maturity.
“Not everyone hates box trees, and I’ve been approached by residents who love box trees, but if you remove them from Agett Road you’ll ruin it,” Mayor Jock Barker said.
The council report said box trees returned to natural shapes in streets with underground power.
It also said other species in the town’s street tree list dropped nuts and leaves, and both developers’ and residents’ requests to fell other trees could increase if the proposal was adopted.
Unforeseen costs such as watering replacement saplings were also raised.
It was agreed staff reconsider Cr Main’s proposal before being returned to councillors at a future meeting.